The Student Sales Pitch

2:41 PM

What does it take to become the contemporary American college student?
In a student sales pitch, a classic formula holds true for many. Decent grades. Racking up every AP class possible. Hours of volunteer work. A mediocre spot on a sports team. Member of a couple clubs, a position in one or two. This Renaissance strategy worked well enough for generations past, so why doesn't it seem to function as efficiently now? 

Competitive fears plagued the start of my sophomore year in high school. After completing the ignorant bliss that was freshman year, things started to get startlingly serious. College has been on the mind of many, and I felt utterly behind. So, I joined as many clubs as I could, and even tried my hand at JV basketball. I ditched some of my favorite pastimes- art and writing- in favor of half-hearted participation. As winter slugged by, I felt angry and stressed. Why was the college system so demanding of homogeneous, cultivated students? I realized this was only the beginning of what I felt was an advertising of oneself to institutions. All my time went towards a label on a resume, and I was not enjoying the fruits of the work I did. What if all this miserable effort didn't pay off? As each graduating year passed, admittance to college seems less like a competition and more like a random drawing. Is it possible that every typical student felt this way?

Then, lazing around, I plowed through an article. Life changing. While I found out that I wasn't the student who felt exhausted by the road to college, I also discovered I was going about it all wrong. The post is a bit of a read, but I couldn't recommend it enough. My whole high school life I assumed that the more, the better: more APs, more clubs, more hours. It wasn't just a personal prediction, but a mantra instilled into me by parents, students, counselors. I clearly recall one terrifying visit that my counselor made to my class as a freshman. She pounded into us that the key to college was clubs, then proceeded to ask how many clubs each student had. Not the types of clubs, or each individual's involvement in them- just a sheer number; the higher the better. So that was what I took to heart. The article taught me otherwise- and it made sense. To sum it up, it emphasized on a spike. What the author meant by this was debunking the belief that I, and many others, held: colleges were looking for well rounded students, students who handled differing extras at an average level. This is not true, and confirms the myth of the craphsoot. After sifting through hundreds of applications, these well rounded students seem more and more similar- and that is when admittance lean towards gut feeling. In reality, schools were looking for a spike: a student who built their high school career around their desired career path. Someone focused, and mildly successful. One sentence in particular grounded me: "colleges are looking for well rounded classes, not students". They will choose an exceptional artist, sports player, science hopeful, etc. over a well rounded student (unless, of course, you are world-class at everything you do. Lucky.) Learning that, I completely uprooted my approach. 

I ditched half the useless (useless to me- maybe they go towards your major!) extras I was in, sat down, and made a plan. I made this website, started submitting my work (and got published!), applied for an internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art, joined debate, and began to work with my city on a project. For my classes, I stopped stressing about taking every possible AP class and settled on 3 humanities-oriented ones. Since reading the article, "...goes towards my major" is probably in my top 10 most-said-phrases. My resume was beginning to build a story around this major, something in the humanities. If this scares you, peep the "something". You do not need a hyper-specific major to build a career around, just a mere idea. What are you interested in? Partake in a few of your desired extracurriculars, and excel in them. If it is something you enjoy doing, it won't feel like a drag! By working hard, you will reap great rewards. The path to college shouldn't have to feel like a sales pitch, but the path to a place where you are free to truly explore your interests. 

Before signing off, I must insist you read the article. Very insightful! 

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